According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, in the first quarter of 2016, approximately 63,000 Palestinians worked in Israel, with permits to enter via 11 checkpoints located throughout the West Bank. It is also estimated that another 38,000 or so Palestinians work in Israel without permits.
Last month, B’Tselem field researchers, Musa Abu Hashhash and Iyad Hadad, documented the dire conditions imposed by Israel in Checkpoint 300, and the Qalandiya Checkpoint.
B’Tselem stated that the conditions in these checkpoints still include overcrowding and extremely long lines, forcing laborers to arrive in the dead of night if they are to make it to work on time.
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Even during Ramadan, when many of the workers fast all day, the Israeli authorities do nothing to alleviate the suffering at the checkpoints. In 2013, B’Tselem documented a similar situation at Tarqumya Checkpoint, in the Hebron area.
Monitoring and testimonies collected from laborers indicate that Palestinians begin arriving at the checkpoints at 3am, the busiest time being between 4am and 6am. Though Qalandiya Checkpoint has five security screening lines, during the rush, the checkpoint is not sufficiently staffed and only one screening post is active.
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The checkpoints are busiest on Sundays, the first workday of the week, as some workers only return home on weekends. During the week they sleep at their workplaces in Israel, partly because of the terrible conditions at the checkpoints, despite the risk of arrest and permit revocation.
Checkpoint 300 has 12 security screening posts, but only two to four are open during the rush, leading to waiting times of up to two hours.
Most laborers who use this checkpoint work in the Jerusalem area and are able to return home every day, which means crowding does not let up later in the week.
Once across, the workers get on shuttles that take them to their workplaces. Drivers do not wait for late arrivals, meaning that delays at the checkpoints are not just exhausting but may also end in the loss of a full day’s work. Others have their pay docked for the hours they are late.
B’Tselem which has been documenting the situation at the checkpoints since 2007 said that this reality a result of Defense Ministry policy.
Though the issue has been brought up time and again over the years, services and facilities at the checkpoints have not been adjusted to match the number of entry permits issued to Palestinian workers by the Civil Administration and reflects a deliberate choice by the Israeli authorities to maintain these inhuman conditions and force them on Palestinian workers.